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AN EGYPTIAN FAIENCE VOTIVE CLEPSYDRA
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM KELLY SIMPSON
AN EGYPTIAN FAIENCE VOTIVE CLEPSYDRA

LATE PERIOD, 664-330 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN FAIENCE VOTIVE CLEPSYDRA
LATE PERIOD, 664-330 B.C.
3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm.) high
Provenance
Acquired by the current owner, New York, 1975 or prior.
Literature
W.K. Simpson, The Face of Egypt: Permanence and Change in Egyptian Art, Katonah, 1977, no. 69.
P. Koob, Divine, Domestic and Desert Animals in Ancient Egyptian Art, Greenwich, 1979, no. 68.
R.E. Freed, A Divine Tour of Egypt, Memphis, 1983, p. 94, no. 17.
B.R. Reque, The World Past to Present, Lexington, 1985, p. 53.
F.D. Friedman, ed., Gifts of the Nile, Ancient Egyptian Faience, New York, 1998, pp. 145 and 232, no. 132.
Exhibited
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, periodically between 30 January 1975-31 October 2001 (Loan no. 6.1975).
Katonah Gallery and the Dallas Museum of Art, The Face of Egypt, Permanence and Change in Egyptian Art, 13 March-28 August 1977.
Greenwich, Connecticut, Greenwich Library, Divine, Domestic and Desert Animals in Ancient Egyptian Art, 4 January-4 March 1979.
Memphis State University, A Divine Tour of Ancient Egypt, 6 October-8 December 1983.
Lexington, University of Kentucky Art Museum, The World Past to Present, 1985.
Cleveland Museum of Art, and elsewhere, Gifts of the Nile, Ancient Egyptian Faience, 10 May-5 July 1998.

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Lot Essay

Clepsydrae, or water clocks, operated on the principal of gravity. Water flowed through an opening at the bottom of the vessel at a measurable rate, thus time could be determined on the basis of the amount of water left in the vessel, the interior of which was delineated with set intervals (see R.E. Freed, op. cit.). Due to its small scale, this example was likely a votive rather than a functional clepsydra. R.S. Bianchi writes that "Votive clepsydrae of the type depicted here generally consist of a base fronted by a single or double flight of stairs. These stairs give the base the appearance of a dais, whose profile resembles the hieroglyph for 'truth,' suggesting that whatever is thus supported is established by a place of truth. Rising from the dais is a reservoir for water in the form of a tall, tapering rectangle. A baboon squats on a narrow pedestal pressed up against the reservoir...the conduit for water is incorporated onto the base on which the baboon squats....The example, one of the finest types, can be reasonably dated to the Late Period, when such apple green faience was in vogue" (F.D. Friedman, ed. op. cit., p. 232). William Kelly Simpson writes that the baboon, a representation of the god Thoth, was an apt guardian of the clepsydra since as god of writing and science he was responsible for the progression of the hours (op. cit., n.p.).

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